Germany tightens police checks on Czech and Polish border

Germany on Wednesday (27 September) announced an increase in police checks on its border with Poland and the Czech Republic — in a bid to respond to irregular migration along smuggling routes.

“We want to prevent evasive movements of smugglers through flexible and mobile controls at changing locations,” German interior minister Nancy Faeser from the Social Democratic party said. “We must stop the cruel business of smugglers who put human lives at risk for maximum profit.”

Faeser explained that new border controls would complement mobile police patrols already in place.

Reacting to the news, the European Commission said that enhancing police controls is an alternative to internal temporary border controls under Schengen such as the one currently in place between Germany in Austria.

The country’s finance minister Christian Lindner, from the liberal FDP party in the traffic-light coalition with social-democrats and Greens, supported the introduction of new border controls, arguing that “border controls should be intensified in order to prevent smuggling and illegal migration crimes.”

He also said his ministry would support the task with 500 customs officers.

The announcement of new measures to tackle illegal migration comes amid widespread concerns over the anti-immigration party, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), gaining significant popularity in recent polls.

Germany has seen an increase in asylum applications since the beginning of the year, with 205,000 asylum applications registered from January to August 2023 — marking a 77-percent surge compared to last year.

And, in addition, more than one million Ukrainians have fled to Germany since the start of the war.

Migration will be top on the agenda of the meeting of EU interior minister in Brussels on Thursday.

Berlin has deemed the EU’s new asylum and migration laws as crucial to limiting illegal migration in Europe, but the biggest economy of the 27-nation bloc has also been offering opposition to one new bill specifying how member states should handle an unexpected influx of asylum seekers.

“After years of deep division in the EU on these issues, we finally reached an agreement on the central elements in the summer. Now it’s time to finalise the legislation,” Faeser said earlier this week, ahead of the meeting in Brussels.

Poland, for its part, also announced this week that it plans to introduce police checks on vehicles crossing the border from Slovakia.

Under EU law, internal border controls can only be reintroduced as a last resort in repose to threats to public security. But countries like Germany, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark have kept border controls in place since 2015.

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